March 22nd, 2016

Pysanky Eggs

PysankyEggsIf you live in the Chesapeake City area of Cecil County, you may already be familiar with the fascinating Ukrainian folk art of pysanky eggs. The Chesapeake City Branch Library will host a program about this amazing folk art on March 22 at 6:30pm with the artists that created the eggs in the display case sharing the rich history of the art and how they are made.

A pysanka egg is…in simple terms…an egg decorated using a wax resist (aka batik) method. The term comes from the Ukrainian verb “pysaty”, which means “to write”. “Pysanka” is the singular form and “pysanky” is the plural. The pysanka egg is so much more than that though. Ukrainians have been decorating eggs and creating these beautiful and intricate works of art for many generations.

In many cultures, ancient people developed myths about the egg…seeing it as an example of creation and the source of life. The intricately colored eggs were used for various social and religious occasions and at times were seen to be a talisman, a protector against evil, as well as a bringer of good and health. Over time, the pysanka tradition was incorporated within the Christian church and they became a form of Ukrainian Easter eggs.

In the past, there was at times a long and involved ritual regarding the decorating of the pysanky eggs. The eggs were made at night after the children were asleep and only the women in the family would work together. Special songs could be sung and the eggs were dyed with special family formulas. The process could take several evenings to finish the beautiful, intricate eggs and within a larger family, 60 eggs could be completed.

There are many different traditional symbols that are used in decorating the eggs. Geometric motifs are popular, as well as some animal and plant elements. You will find a lot of stylized symbols of the sun, which can be seen as a broken cross, triangle and eight-pointed rosette or a star. You can also find flowers, leaves, the tree of life, stags, horses and birds. The Christian influence brought the cross, the church and fish symbols. As pysanka decoration has been passed on through the years, you start to see much more modern decorations and symbols being used.

A specialized instrument called the kistka or ryl’tse is used during the wax resist method to write the design onto the egg with hot beeswax. Wherever the wax is applied, the dye will not penetrate. In the past, artisans prepared their own dyes using natural products such as bark, twigs and leaves of various trees. Today, chemical dyes are mainly used. The dye colors also held meanings at times, such as yellow standing for wealth and fertility and green being the symbol of spring and plant life. Of course, this is a simplified version of the process and there is so much more information about how to create these artful eggs.

I mentioned Chesapeake City earlier, because the Ukrainian people began arriving in Chesapeake City from the Ukraine in 1910. The first bishop in the US for the Ukrainian Byzantine Rite purchased 700 acres of land near Chesapeake City to help the Ukrainian people to settle as farmers and build a Ukrainian community. Traditions such as the pysanka egg were brought with them and every year we have many beautiful eggs on display in the case at the Chesapeake City library.

What is your favorite way to decorate eggs?


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March 7th, 2016

Teen Film Fest

Teen Film FestivalThere’s something big on the horizon for you, Cecil County teens!

This year, our beloved Cecilwood film competition has morphed into something new. Don’t worry, the 2016 Teen Film Fest will carry on the tradition of allowing you to share your short film with the world. However, we’ve added a few twists to make the experience even better!

You can now shoot and submit your film with a tablet or smartphone. You can also attend a program designed to take your footage to the next level. And yes, your submissions will still be shown to the public, and awards will still be given. Sometimes, change is great.

This year, your goal is to create the best Book Trailer. Have you ever read a book and thought it would make an awesome movie? Did you have a picture in your head of the characters, the scenery, or the epic battle sequences? Would you like to turn your ideas into a short film, and freak out with your fellow book nerds? Now’s your chance. And if you’re not sure what it’ll take to achieve amazing results, never fear! We’ve got you covered with a new two-part program: Behind the Scenes.

Professor Brandon Boas will be visiting the Elkton Central Branch to lead the Behind the Scenes program and help you bring your vision to life. On March 15th @ 3:30 he will help you edit and polish your footage. With this kind of support anything is possible!

Can’t wait to get started? Check out Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts or Digital SLR Video and Filmmaking for Dummies, or take a free Gale course in Screenwriting. You should also head over to the Teen Film Fest page for submission guidelines, deadlines, and FAQ’s. Films must be submitted by Friday, April 29 and the screening event is at Elkton Central Library on May 5th.

What book will you create a trailer about?


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